The Loonie Household is Selling the House?

Finding the right house
Turns out wifey really doesn't like her new commute. Frankly, I don't blame her. Aside from the fast 15 minutes it takes to drive from our house to the off ramp on the 407, the rest of the 45 minute drive is a stressful, white knuckle drive through local roads where she goes head to head with the worst of Toronto's drivers.

The kicker is the bill. We received the first bill for her new 407 toll highway journey and it was just over $629!

Wow... that is much higher than my initial estimate of $500. Part of this is because my wife also switches up to go down the 400 (which actually further than where I thought she would get off) instead of the local roads. Either way, it's a lot of money just for the privilege of driving on this privately owned highway. This isn't including the gas which came out to under $200 for July or my $310 monthly fare for taking the GO Train downtown. Added up, our combined commuting expenses are a staggering $1,139! Yeesh...

In comparison, my commute isn't as bad. I ride my bike 10-15 minutes to the train station, wait 10-15 minutes for the train, sit in the train for 1 hour and then walk 10 more minutes to work. Overall, it's pretty stress free. However, my only issue with the commute is the time I'm wasting doing nothing. Compared to my previous commute of 20-30 minutes, I'm taking an extra 1 hour and 10 minutes. Overall, that's 2 hours and 20 minutes I'm not at home with Baby Girl.

Which wasn't that big of a deal before Wifey found a new job... but now Wifey gets home 10-15 minutes before I do!

That's when Wifey approached me about putting the house for sale.

Originally, I was against it. However, as I gave it some thought, we were spending an obscene amount of money to commute. Rather than that, why not put that money into the mortgage in the form of equity?

Well, after some back and forth, we decided to list the house to see what offers we could get for the house and then see if those offers would make it feasible to purchase something a little closer to our new workplaces. Which likely meant getting a condo as detached houses downtown cost way more than we could afford. I guess we could afford it, but it would definitely set our early retirement goals back by at least 10 years.

As a result, we called our old neighbours, since they are now licensed real estate agents. They came over the next day and asked wifey and I what our expectations for the house were. Mine was reasonable at $750,000 and wifey was expecting at least $780,000. According to our old neighbours, $780,000 was doable, but the house had to be staged and had to appear problem free. We agreed to list, so we might as well clean up the house to make it presentable.

For the next two weeks, we threw out trash, trash, and more trash. Despite not buying a lot of stuff, we still accumulated a lot of stuff regardless. I had great pleasure in throwing out father-in-law's garbage. He has this dumb tendency to pick up literal crap and put it in the house to do some stupid thing or another. Or he'd find some broken junk and give it to Baby Girl to play with. Some things, if they are in good condition, are fine. But other stuff like rusted bicycles or broken toy cars, that's a bit too much. In any case, pretty much everything we left outside, our neighbours gladly took. It was actually fun to empty out our house. Some things were left in the garage in case we didn't end up selling the house. At least we'd still have the furniture for later. But most things, I gladly threw out.

By the time the stagers came to our house, they had a blank canvas to work their magic. By the time they were finished, our house looked like our house, but it was also like being in someone else's house.

The house was listed and immediately drew interest. That weekend they had the open house so we took the opportunity to have BG spend time with her grandparents for two days (more like afternoons as we went home in the evening). Apparently, our house was buzzing. Our old neighbour estimated at least 50 people dropped by, not including the agents who brought multiple clients with them. Overall, our old neighbour was confident we could sell the house for $770,000. That was good for me to hear as I was expecting $750,000. However, wifey wasn't so thrilled.

The plan was to list for a week before taking offers. However, our old neighbour was trying to entice a bully offer before offer night. It definitely worked. The first offer was $765,000. Not bad. Considering we listed the house at $729,000 that was a pretty good first offer. Wifey and I discussed it briefly and we were in agreement that unless an offer came along that blew our minds, we'd stick to the plan of waiting until offer night. Two more offers came in the next day. One for $780,000 and the other for $770,000. Still days away from offer night, wifey insisted we wait. I was ready to sign for $780,000 as it was $30,000 over my expectations. Our old neighbour tried to persuade wifey to sign, but she didn't want to sell... even though she initially said she wanted $780,000 for the house. Well, this was our decision, so I was okay with her not wanting to sign.

The next day, the first two potential buyers who put in offers upped their offers. The first that offered $765,000 upped their offer to $810,000! The second offer of $780,000 went up to $785,000.

Wow! I was speechless. Our old neighbour was shocked as well. He didn't think our house would sell for that much. Frankly, neither did I. I would have been happy with $750,000. Now we would get $60,000 more than I thought. This extra bit would definitely help in our home search. Wifey wanted to sign it back for $815,000, but I convinced her that the buyers could walk away from our counter and $810,000 was much better than $785,000.

As a result, we quickly signed the agreement to sell the house and bam... just like that, we sold the house.

Next was the harder part... finding a new place to live. Or so I thought. For weeks, I was looking at the listings watching places come and go. Some places that I thought would sell for a lot, didn't actually sell for as much as I thought. Others sold for more than I expected, but nothing crazy. A few places even sold for over their asking price. However, it was probably like our situation, listing for lower than market value to entice a bidding war.

As for what we were looking for in a condo, our checklist was quite extensive. Ideally, the building was close to both our workplaces, in an area where the school wasn't in a sketchy neighbourhood, it had a lake view, close to my sister, close to Chinatown (for the in-laws), big enough (as we are downsizing, we do need 3 bedroom or a 2+1), and didn't have an Airbnb problem (like these poor people).

The first place we looked was at Ice Condos... yes, the same one in the story I linked above. The unit had 3 bedroom, so it was worth a look. However, it was very disappointing. The lobby was very busy. The Toronto Caribbean Carnival was happening, so there were a lot of "guests". The concierge/security guard didn't really stop people from entering the elevator area as it was a building that allows short term rentals. The unit was also next to the highway. While not overly loud, it was overly dusted as evidenced by the dirt covered windows. That would be a lot of daily cleaning.

The second one we looked at was much nicer. I suppose compared to the first unit, anything would look nicer. However, this one only had 2 bedroom and a den, but at least the den wasn't a fake den. It just didn't have a door. Suffice it to say, wifey really liked this one.

We looked at a few other units, mainly because it was 3 bedroom, or the proximity to certain areas, but those units were extremely disappointing. As a result, wifey was ready to put an offer down on the second unit.

Of course, I wasn't quite ready to jump in. I wanted to look into it more, but at the same time, I didn't want to wait too long. We were originally planning on seeing more condos downtown, but 3 on our list changed to sold conditionally overnight. Yeesh!

One thing that was nice about the second unit was that the owners occupied the unit. You can tell based on how clean everything was and how well maintained it was. Another thing with the building was that condo fees covered all the utilities. That's right. Hydro, water, and gas! Usually, with the newer buildings, the owner needs to pay for hydro separately. Not in this building. Another thing that convinced me was the availability of fibre. Most downtown buildings have fibre. However, this one had it as well, so that was a bonus. Another plus was that the condo board banned Airbnbs in the building. Well, banned them if they were a 2 month or less stay. Finally, my commute would only take 17 minutes... walking. That's right, I would only need to walk to work. This unit basically checked off our list of things we wanted, and added a few bonuses.

I made the decision to go ahead, and I told our neighbour that we were okay to purchase it for what they were asking and if he was able to bring it down, then great! The original list price was $889,000. However, they couldn't sell it for that much and instead relisted for $859,000. Our neighbour reached out to the selling agent and eventually at 11pm, the sellers agreed to sell for $840,000!

That night, we signed the offer and it was accepted the next morning.

In a span of two weeks, we sold our home and bought a condo downtown. Who would have thought? Financially, after running the numbers, we will save almost $600 by moving downtown.

Actual and estimated costs at the house and condo.

Granted our mortgage will be a fraction bigger (~$30,000) and we'll be dipping into our TFSAs to cover fees and taxes, but $600 a month extra is much better than giving that money away to the corporations that own the 407. Even if one of them happens to pay our our pensions. Of course, because of the new jobs, our incomes are much, much higher than they were in April, so we will be able to save much more now.

In short, there's still a lot of work to do. Now that we know for sure we're moving, we need to throw away at least 50% more of our stuff, we need to start working on applying for bridge financing and the mortgage, and we need to arrange a moving company.

Overall, our early retirement goals are only affected by a year or two. I cannot wait until this whole situation is over.


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